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Found 8 results

  1. Many people reading John le Carré for the first time are sometimes confused by his terminology. I'm not sure if this jargon is his own creation, or if it is in fact the language of espionage. Here is an attempt to define/explain some of the terms used (this is a work in process): Backbearings - A method of gathering information using indirect evidence or information to determine a fact. By determining what someone doesn't know and is asking questions about, the agent can then determine what that person does know. Bearleader - The people charged with organizing and running an operati
  2. This is le Carré's first novel and the first to feature George Smiley. Written in 1961 and presumably contemporarily set this short novel is a very clever crime novel which just happens to be about spies. George Smiley is sent for when a civil servant from the Foreign Office kills himslef the day after Smiley had interviewed him as part of a security investigation. Anxious to avoid a scandal Smiley is sent to ensure no blame can be placed on his department. It soon becomes clear to Smiley the death was not a suicide but a murder. With the help of a Special Branch policeman and a colleague,
  3. This is le Carré's first proper full-on spy novel. And what a cracker. The story involves and elaborate sting operation against a senior official in East Germany. The seedy nature of espionage is explored and exploited to tell a rather nasty little tale of bluff and counter-bluff. The story flows very quickly and the plot twists are, while not particularly surprising, so well executed that I was involved right to the end. As a footnote, George Smiley doesn't actually appear in this story. He is mentioned quite a bit but always described by others'. Even when he says something at the ver
  4. Le Carré's second novel also features George Smiley who is still retired from the Secret Service and is called on by an ex-colleague who receives a letter from a woman who believes her husband is going to kill her. When the woman concerned is murdered, Smiley assists the local police with their investigation. I am sure at the time it made sense for le Carré to have Smiley develop his investigative abilities in a way that might have been more accessible to an audience that was more used to detective stories. The spy novel was a newer genre. Now it seems strange knowing how Smiley became suc
  5. I've taken the best part of 3 months to get through this - eventually finished it this morning. It's the first of his books that I've read, so have no idea how it compares with his other works. The fact that it took so long to read is more a reflection on the fact that I don't spend too much time on the train these days, and opportunities to read on the M25 are infrequent. It's an odd book - a very slow start, featuring a character who eventually gets pushed into the margins. The real "hero" is there from the early pages, but doesn't take centre stage for quite a time. A s
  6. A young, tortured Chechen man shows up in Hamburg, Germany. He claims to be a Muslim and wants to become a doctor. Enlisting the help of a young lawyer from a human rights group, he asks her to approach a British private banker whose bank has some shady money on deposit for him. And then the German, British, and American intelligence communities become aware of his presence. Although the novel was slow to grasp my interest, le Carré does a good job building the intrigue, mystery, and tension as the story progresses. His prose is spot on and a true pleasure to read. The characters, whi
  7. Picking up after the events of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, le Carré gives us his one and only novel set in Asia. What starts with British Intelligence discovering a trail of Russian money heading to Hong Kong soon turns to drugs, the Vietnam war, the Cambodian Civil War, and China—and then it starts to get complicated. Often overlooked because it doesn't have the Cold War and Russia as its main backdrop—and because it's bookended between Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People, for which there are brilliant BBC adaptations starring Alec Guiness—The Honourable Schoolboy defini
  8. The Mission Song is John le Carré's newest novel. It is centered around Bruno Salvador - a half-British, half-Congolese interpreter of numerous obscure African languages - as he's whisked away by British Intelligence to a secret conference between the representatives of a Western-backed syndicate of politicians and celebrities, an ambitious Congolese leader preaching reform, and three Congolese warlords. The goal of this clandestine conference is none other than changing the government in the resource rich Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo... for the benefit of the Congolese pe
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